In my experience most people hate burpees, but there's no denying they are a seriously effective and challenging whole-body exercise.

Performing burpees regularly will have a dramatic improvement in your strength and fitness. If you are a beginner or you have an injury that doesn't allow you to jump, then burpees aren't the best place to start. 

In this article I share 10 alternatives to burpees I give to all my beginner clients so you can work your way up to smashing out burpees for reps as part of a high intensity workout. 

Burpees are a full-body exercise that work all your major muscle groups and builds amazing core strength.

The best alternatives to burpees still hit the same areas of your body, but with a lower intensity, making them easier to perform.

To help you smash your fitness goals, here are my 10 favorite burpee alternatives to try in the gym or at home.

1. Jumping Jacks 

man and woman doing jumping jacks outside

Jumping jacks are easy to perform, but they really get your heart rate up and help you burn a lot of calories.

They're a full-body exercise that engages all the same muscles as a burpee does but focuses particularly on your arms, shoulders, glutes, and core without having to do push ups.

Anyone can do jumping jacks, and you don't need any exercise equipment, so they work well as an alternative to a traditional burpee. 


  • Increases heart rate and improves aerobic capacity.
  • Develops power to help with other exercises like running, a vertical jump and compound lifts.
  • Strengthens the major muscles in your lower body.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet together and hands by your sides. 
  2. Bend your knees slightly and jump up into the air spreading your legs and arms straight out at the same time, so your body forms an X shape.
  3. Land in this position and then jump up again and return to starting position.
  4. Start by aiming for 30 seconds of high-intensity reps and increase as your fitness levels rise.

Tips From A Trainer!

Jumping jacks are easy to modify. To add some variety to your workout, you can try jumping jack squats or pick up a couple of very small weight plates tom increase the resistance. 

2. Squat Jumps 

Woman Performing Squat Jumps Outdoors

Squats are known as one of the essential exercises to improve your strength and fitness, and squat jumps are a variation that allow you to push your body even harder.

They mimic part of the burpee motion and work your glutes, lower back, hamstrings, and core.

They help you build strength in the same way burpees do, and they’re a useful alternative exercise for beginners or those carrying an upper-body injury.  

This exercise is the best alternative to burpees for bad shoulders as no push ups are required.


  • No exercise equipment required, easy to do anywhere.
  • Builds leg muscles, glute strength and core strength.
  • Teaches explosive upwards power and increases leg drive.

How To Do It:

  1. Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. 
  2. Bend your knees and get into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  3. Brace your core, and in an explosive motion, jump upwards, keeping your arms by your sides.
  4. Land softly and move back to starting position.
  5. Try to perform squat jumps quickly to elevate your heart rate and burn more calories.

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you explode upwards using your legs and driving through your heels for maximum quad engagement. 

3. Jumping Rope 

man jumping rope outside

Athletes use jump rope exercises to improve their whole-body strength and cardio. There are a lot of jump rope variations, but the core movement engages most of the same areas as burpees do.[1]

Jump rope workouts are good for beginners because you can move at your own pace, but they are high impact, so they may not be suitable for those who can't take much impact through their joints.

Therefore, there are still plenty of jump rope alternatives to keep your cardio game strong.


  • Improve your conditioning and help you improve your fitness levels.
  • Improves coordination. 
  • Improves balance and stability in the lower body.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by standing with a jumping rope handle in both hands and the rope on the floor. 
  2. Make sure that the handles stretch up to your chest when you're standing on the rope, and adjust if needed.
  3. Next, rotate your wrists to spin the rope around you and jump gently up as it passes under you.
  4. Keep your knees bent throughout, and remember that you only need to jump feet a few inches off the floor at a time.
  5. Try to keep a steady rhythm and aim for 1-2 minute sets when you’re getting started.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep in mind, this exercise is not about the number of reps you do. I recommend setting a timer for 30 seconds and jumping rope with max effort followed by a rest period of 30-60 seconds. 

4. Dumbbell Or Kettlebell Thrusters 

Woman Doing Dumbbell Thrusters

A dumbbell or kettlebell thruster is regarded as one of the ultimate full-body exercises, so it makes sense that it's a burpee alternative.

Thrusters engage all your major muscle groups, but there’s no impact on your body which makes is a great option for those who can't do push ups or require an exercise that doesn't involve any jumping.

This exercise makes it a viable alternative for those who struggle with traditional burpee workouts. 


  • Develops your hamstrings, glutes, quads, lats, triceps, and upper back.  
  • Low impact alternative to burpees.
  • Incorporates squatting and pressing in one functional movement.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with the dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand (or hold it in both hands if you prefer), and then squat down low. 
  2. Next, push upwards in an explosive movement and as your body rises, raise the weight up above you until your arms are straight. 
  3. Pause for a second and then lower the weight back down with control until you’re back in a squat position and repeat.
  4. You’re best using a low or medium weight for this exercise so you can perform lots of reps and burn more calories.

Tips From A Trainer!

One important thing to remember is to keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the entire movement. If you have bad knees make sure you only squat to parallel. 

5. Plyo Lunges 

Woman Doing Plyo Lunges In The Park

Plyo lunges are sometimes referred to as jumping lunges and are often used as a burpee substitute because they’re an effective cardio move you can do at home.

Lunges are a fantastic exercise that engages your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core, providing a comprehensive workout for your lower body.

The lunge benefits include improving overall stability and coordination. If you're new to lunges, it's recommended to start with regular lunges and gradually progress as you become more comfortable with the movement.

Because this is lower body focused exercise, this is a great alternative to burpees for bad shoulders.


  • Increased stability and movement awareness, working large muscle groups and joints at the same time.
  • Increases muscle contractile velocities that is key to increasing force development.
  • Transfers over to sports that require quick power such as sprinting, jumping, weightlifting and sports that require fast acceleration.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you. 
  2. Bend your knees into a low lunge and lower your body towards the floor. Lean forward slightly, engage your core, and explosively jump feet upwards, launching your whole body into the air.
  3. While in the air, switch places with your other leg so that one moves forward and one backward. 
  4. Land softly and then lunge down to go straight into the next rep.  

Tips From A Trainer!

If you struggle to keep your balance during this exercise, break down the movement into smaller parts and perfect each stage before continuing. 

6. Mountain Climbers 

Man Doing Mountain Climbers At Home

A good variation on a standard high plank position is a mountain climber.

They shred your core and engage your lower back and legs, and get your heart pumping, providing many of the same benefits that you would get from burpees.

Mountain climbers are easy to perform and well suited for beginners, but as you become more experienced, you can keep increasing the intensity to increase your heart rate.

These are some of the best home cardio exercises to burn a lot of calories quickly and a great low impact alternative to burpees.


  • Works multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time, making them an efficient exercise.
  • Improves mobility in the hip and knee joints.
  • Promote functional fitness and have a large carry over to every day movements.

How To Do It:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your spine straight. 
  2. Pull one knee up into your chest and then push it back down before repeating the movement with the other leg. 
  3. Keep alternating one knee forward alternating for as long as you can. 
  4. If you're just starting mountain climbers, then it can start to burn at first; try to push through to get the most from the exercise.  

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to target your obliques, bring your knee up towards your elbow when doing mountain climbers. 

7. Plank with Shoulder Tap 

Woman Doing Plank Shoulder Taps

Planks are an excellent way to strengthen your core, hips, and lower back, and when you incorporate shoulder taps and the plank position, you also engage your shoulders and arms without having to do a full push up. 

This exercise works a lot of the same muscles as burpees but without as much movement, making them easier for beginners and a good low impact alternative to burpees.

Performing them regularly will help strengthen your body and help improve your conditioning so you can perform other exercises, like burpees, in the future.


  • Full body exercise that has a large focus on core strength but also works the biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, hamstrings, glutes and back
  • Helps improve posture.
  • Creates better balance and coordination. 

How To Do It:

  1. Start in a high plank position as if you're about to lower yourself into a push-up, making sure your spine is straight. 
  2. Tense your core and shift your weight slightly to one side.
  3. Lift one hand off the floor and reach up to touch your opposite shoulder.
  4. Lower your hand back down to the floor and then repeat with your other side.
  5. To get the most benefit from this exercise, make sure your movement is slow and controlled throughout.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you find this exercise too easy, you can lift one leg and the opposite arm straight out and repeat on both sides. 

8. Kettlebell Swings 

Man Doing Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are an effective burpee alternative because they work your whole body and give you a great cardio workout that burns a lot of calories.

If you're interested in learning more, check out our article on how many calories can you burn with kettlebell swings.

One of many kettlebell swing benefits is that they help improve your overall balance, and by using heavier weights, you can push your body harder than you would with a regular burpee to increase difficulty.

Kettlebell swings are a bit challenging at first, especially if you're a kettlebell novice, but you should master the movement quite quickly.  A kettlebell swing can also be done unilaterally- one arm at a time. 


  • It's a low impact alternative to burpees and a good option for those with weaker joints.  
  • A great alternative to burpees for bad knees.
  • Increases heart rate and provides cardio benefits.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Lean forward, engage your core, and grab the kettlebell. 
  2. Lift it off the floor and swing it backwards between your legs.
  3. Engage your shoulders and shift your hips back as the kettlebell swings underneath you. This should be a hip hinge and not a squat position. 
  4. As it reaches the back of the arc, shift your weight forward and swing the kettlebell back upwards.
  5. Raise it up to shoulder height and then lower back down to repeat the swing again. 
  6. Make sure you keep the movement controlled and start with low weights until you feel confident with the movement.  

Tips From A Trainer!

I see poor technique often with this exercise, correct form is essential. Remember to drive with your hips and legs when bringing the kettlebell up towards shoulder height. Don't rely solely on your arms to create momentum. 

9. Medicine Ball Slams 

Woman Performing Medicine Ball Slams Outside

Medicine ball slams mimic the up and down movement of a burpee and engage many of the same muscles which makes it a perfect alternative.

They are easier to perform than burpees because you don’t need as much flexibility, but you will need a weighted medicine ball.

These slams will improve your overall strength and can be used as an effective cardio workout to boost your metabolism, they are also a great burpee alternative with no jumping.

If you're unable to perform this exercise due to space limitations or lack of equipment, there are medicine ball alternative exercises that can provide similar benefits. 


  • Improves stamina and power.
  • Improves functional fitness and works on coordination.
  • They are fun and a great way to release some stress and boosts muscular endurance.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and a medicine ball in your hands.
  2. Squat down low and then, in one explosive movement, push through the balls of your feet into a standing position, moving your arms upwards at the same time until the medicine ball is above your head.
  3. Use your arms to throw the medicine ball down to the floor in front of you as hard as you can.
  4. Squat down low to pick up the ball, and then return to starting position to complete the movement. 

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you squat down rather than bending over to pick up the medicine ball to get the most out of building strength through your lower body.

10. Explosive Push-Ups 

Man Doing Explosive Push-Up Exercise

Push ups are one of the best body weight exercises out there. An explosive push-ups will help you develop a stronger upper body and are often by those who can’t quite manage a full burpee yet.

They primarily work your triceps, chest, core, and back muscles, and will raise your heart rate if you perform a lot of reps quickly.

Proper form is important here so you must be able to perform a full push up well before trying this more advanced variation.

This will allow you to burn calories while making significant strength gains, so what's not to love!


  • Helps train fast-twitch muscle fibers, and will translate to explosive movements like sprinting and jumping.
  • Increases strength and mobility.
  • Helps you learn how to safely absorb force from impact and can protect you from joint-loading exercise and activities.

How to Do It:

  1. Start in the push-up position on the floor. 
  2. Lower your body down as far as you can go, pause for a second, and then push up explosively, launching your upper body off the floor.
  3. Land in the push-up position once again and then repeat the movement. 
  4. Aim for 10-15 reps and increase as your fitness improves.  

Tips From A Trainer!

The explosive push up might be too difficult for some. You can modify it by letting your knees rest on the floor. This movement can also be tough on the wrists, so you might want to get some wrist wraps. Check out our favorite wrist wraps here! 

Will Burpee Substitutes Work As Many Muscles As Burpees?

A burpee works many upper and lower body muscles, including your glutes, quads, core, shoulders, chest, triceps, and calves. These are crucial for strengthening your whole body, and that’s why burpees are used by people of all abilities.  

Burpee substitutes vary, and many won't target as many muscles as a full burpee because they're only replicating part of the movement. Some engage your whole body, but some focus on one particular area to really improve the strength of targeted muscle groups.

By focusing on specific areas, you will improve the overall functionality of your body, and it will become easier to perform burpees.  

A good way to ensure you’re still engaging as many muscles as you would with a burpee is to take several of these alternatives to burpees and develop your own routine.

This will help you to improve your strength and conditioning across your whole body and stop you from getting too used to one type of movement. 

Benefits Of Burpee Alternative Exercises

Burpee alternatives offer a few key benefits: 

  • Low Impact
    Burpees involve a lot of movement and can put a strain on your joints. These low impact burpee alternatives help relieve pressure across your body and are much less taxing to perform. This makes them accessible for beginners and a better option for those with limited mobility.  
  • Strength Gains
    Many of the alternatives to burpees target specific muscle groups and incorporate weights into the movement and helps build muscle. This will lead to greater gains in these areas compared to performing traditional burpees.   
  • Effective Cardio
    Burpee alternatives push your body hard and get your heart rate up. This allows you to burn more calories and increases your metabolic rate, so you continue to burn calories once your workout is over. Some of these exercises will be more effective cardio than regular burpees, and by mixing it up with different movements, you’ll shock your body and burn more calories each session.[2]

Frequently Asked Burpee Questions

Do burpees burn belly fat? 

Yes, burpees can help burn belly fat more quickly than other cardio. They also help to strengthen your core so your belly will start to tone up more quickly.   

Do burpees count as cardio? 

Yes, burpees are primarily a cardio exercise but also help strengthen your body.  

Which of these alternative exercises is the easiest to perform? 

Jumping jacks are probably the easiest burpee alternative to perform and are suitable for people of all fitness levels.  

Which of these alternative exercises is the most difficult? 

Plyo lunges (jumping lunges) are quite difficult to perform because they require strength, fitness, and coordination. Beginners might struggle with them and may need to start with regular lunges.  

Related Article - 10 Best Pull Up Alternatives


Burpees are effective, but they’re also tough to perform and aren’t suitable for everyone, especially those who have a lower fitness level and struggle to complete burpees with good form.

By trying some of these burpee alternatives, you can still get the most from your next workout with less risk of strain or injury. 




Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website